If you visit frequently enough, and download every infrequent dub track I post here (at the rate of about two tracks every three months), then sometime late into 2008 you’re gonna have yourself one hell of a compilation CD. For the first two editions of the Brain-Erasing Dub series, please click here and here. They represent the finest in drop-out, shimmering, echo-filled 70s Jamaican dub. This round I’ve got one from BLACKBEARD’S ALL-STARS that I procured from the “Trojan Dub Rarities” 3xCD box set. The only information I can glean on the web about this here gem is that it can be found on said box set – that’s it. Blackbeard, are you out there? Come home and tell us about yourself. The other is a killer from MORWELL UNLIMITED & KING TUBBY, from the excellent “Dub Me” CD on Blood & Fire. Track one, even! The whole CD’s great. More for you in November.

Play or Download BLACKBEARD’S ALL-STARS – Bridgeport Dub

“It’s showtime, folks!”

Today on CBS Sunday Morning, in a segment devoted to interviews with five prominent octogenarians (including entertainer Elaine Stritch, White House correspondent and resident thorn-in-the-side Helen Thomas, Ben Bradlee of The Washington Post/Watergate/Woodward and Bernstein fame, and Playboy incarnate Hugh Hefner), TV producer Norman Lear was asked if he had any advice for writers: “Write,” he said.

And Lear’s secret for living healthily and happily beyond eighty?

“Every day’s a production,” he said. “You produce.”

Corwood 0789

                   BROOKLYN WEDNESDAY
                              SET ONE
                             DISC ONE
1. PUT ME THERE                                           (11:21)
2. DESTROY THE DAY                                     (10:43)
3. OBSCURE PHYSICS                                       (8:26)
4. STRUCTURE OF WORDS                                (9:02)
                             DISC TWO
1. ALL I WANT                                                 (5:11)
2. LONELY WORLD                                           (8:32)
3. CHANGE MY BRAIN                                       (9:51)
5. I LOVE YOU                                                (10:51)
                              SET TWO
                             DISC ONE
1. HOW ‘R YOU                                               (13:31)
2. CITY POUNDING DOWN                              (12:12)
3. DIFFERENT BLUES                                       (9:21)
4. MY NECESSITY                                             (8:21)
                           DISC TWO
1. SEA OF PEOPLE                                            (7:59)
2. SORRY, SORRY                                             (9:13)
3. TEQUILA GIRL                                            (10:54)
4. JUST ENOUGH                                            (10:15)


               P.O. BOX 15375
        HOUSTON, TEXAS 77220

The Berlin Avant-Garde Takes Another Hit

Once upon a time, the 18th Century Podewils’sches Palais, built for Count Podewil, whoever he was, was the headquarters of the FDJ, an arts-and-crafts center, and the place where East Berlin bands wanting permits to play passed their proficiency and ideology exams. Starting in 1990, however, the former “House of Young Talent” became just plain Podewil, an arts center specializing in media art, avant-garde music, and dance. The music program in particular, curated by a woman named Elke Moltrecht, who must know everything there is to know about the current “out” scene, brought some amazing shows to town, and it was there that the Transmediale Festival held its first few years. Podewil also had money from the city to provide grants to artists wishing to work in Berlin, and the city’s cultural scene was enriched by this. (Or, in some cases, not. But that’s how it is with the avant-garde).

Now, I don’t follow this city’s cultural politics too closely, but somewhere along the way, a split developed between the more visionary (Podewil) and more academic (Transmediale) factions, and the latter won. Moltrecht and her merry crew were exiled to Ballhaus Naunystr. in Kreuzberg and the other folk moved into the Palais as Tesla at Podewil. Not that they were exclusively dull, although I never really saw anything on their e-mail newsletter that would induce me to walk over there for a show, because one thing they managed was to produce Zeitkratzer’s famous live concert of Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music, at which Reed famously showed up himself. But far more frequently, Tesla showed the tired old art-proceeds-from-theory symptoms which make so much artistic production in Germany so dull.

Last week, though, Tesla got some bad news: the city, after only two years of funding, had decided to pull the plug. As they put it in their latest newsletter (original orthography preserved): “kulturprojekte berlin gmbh, which commissions t e s l a with the cultural program in the podewils’sches palais, has decided, together with the senator for the arts, to reverse a previously confirmed extension of t e s l a’ s contract until 2008. our yearly budget of 500.000 euros will be completely redirected towards use for a cultural education program, the details of which remain to be more clearly defined. we will lose our space and our financial support at the end of this year.”

I’m not positive, but there might be a subtext lurking here. Besides the city’s wanting to save money — they’ve been slashing away at the cultural budget without really addressing the question of how many opera houses we really need here, and if there isn’t something that can be done with the orchestras, both of which suck up a lot more money than Tesla ever did — there were several incidents in the past when the Podewil group were threatened with eviction so that one or another branch of the federal bureaucracy could move into this nice building. (Nice facade, anyway: behind it stretches a lot of rather grim DDR addition).

As for Ms. Moltrecht, she’s hanging on, and her Interface Festival, which started Friday, is more star-studded than anything Tesla’s done recently, but if you check the posters hanging around town, she’s also gathered together an impressive array of sponsors to help her produce it.

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: Berlin’s reputation as a center for artistic innovation owes plenty to Podewil and Tesla. No amount of play-it-again-Wolfgang opera productions is going to change this. Without support from the city, this scene can easily pick up and go somewhere it’s wanted, and Berlin will cease to be so hip! and edgy! and become the provincial backwater so many elements here want it to be. The avant-garde thrives on synergy, so having a city chock-full of art galleries but no venue for cutting-edge dance and music is an empty triumph.

One wonders if anyone in the Rathaus cares.

Fear, Dread, and Anxiety

First things first, I hereby swear not to do any more YouTube-related posts for at least thirty days. I’ve whiled away much too much time over at that copyright-infringing, time-sucking, Stuckey’s-on-the-Web (though, I must admit, I did enjoy seeing again, for the first time in years, “The Contest Nobody Could Win” episode of WKRP in Cincinnati).

Second things second, this clip from Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick’s often brilliant thirtysomething epitomizes what it’s like not only to be self-employed, where you’re dancing as fast as you can to pay next month’s rent, but also what it’s like to work in a creative field (in this instance, an ad agency), where you’re only as good as your next idea.

In this scene, Ken Olin’s Michael and Timothy Busfield’s Elliot perfectly portray the battle constantly waging within the creative psyche: each of them anxious to welcome, then almost automatically dismiss, whatever idea, no matter how good, they come up with.

As Elliot concludes: “Mike, you gotta relax. It’s just fear, dread, and anxiety. I mean, we’re gonna deal with this on every job.”

Toggle –Little Green Men

Toggle –Tiger Woman/ Little Green Men –Decca 85.029 (1974 French issue)

Another fun and near-genius creation from the Tony Atkins/Gerry Morris partnership. It shares a sci-fi theme with Galahad’s Rocket Summer (Bell) , but with a more naïve Joe Meek-like sense of innocence . Musically this is a perfect example of BubbleGlam with its dual sustained guitars and killer chorus coming in nice and early around the 30 second mark. The A side is more straightforward and is a top Boogie/Glam number, again with nice sustained guitar plus handclaps and a neo/pseudo-Rockabilly vocal delivery.

Click on title for edits of Little Green Men and Tiger Woman


There was this compilation that came out, jeez, I don’t know, I want to say 1987 (?), called “IT CAME FROM THE GARAGE II”. It was a bunch of Detroit-area garage bands, most of them extremely raw & quite more fulfilling than anyone else at the time who sought to connect 60’s raunch with CRAMPS-style lurch-n-roll. Even THE GORIES made their debut there, and they, along with ART PHAG, were the ones that made the most immediate impression. (I seem to remember an ode to porn stars by SNAKE-OUT that started with the line, “Hey Ginger Lynn / What’s on your chin?”, as well as a hideously racist song by someone going by the nom de plume of JERRY VILE. Classy!). ART PHAG’s contribution was equally distressing – a two-minute, bottom-feeding sludge-o-rama of the most guttural garage sounds imaginable called “Golf”, interrupted by occasional angry rants from a guy yelling at his girlfriend for messing with his golf clubs, followed by the sound of her screaming in sheer terror as he goes on a rampage. Like I said, tre classy.

So a couple years later the ART PHAG album comes out. It’s got a spray painted cover, each one handmade – you know the way every Tom Dick & Harry noise band does it this century. Kinda cool back then. “Golf” is on it, and all the politically incorrect DJs at my college radio station rush to be the first one to play it. But hidden in its grooves are other songs – much better songs, I thought – that proved that ART PHAG weren’t a one-trick pony, and that they engaged in a primitive level of subdued raunch as well as anyone else going – sounding very CRAMPSian for sure but also with nods to the Panther Burns and 60s punkers of all stripes. I’m posting two of the best from the LP – oh yeah, and “Golf” – as testament to a band undoubtedly lost to time if not for the Interweb.

Play or Download ART PHAG – “A Boy And His Gun”
Play or Download ART PHAG – “Molly & Bobby”
Play or Download ART PHAG – “Golf”

15. “Radio Nowhere”

When I interviewed Bruce Springsteen a few weeks back, among the many fond memories he shared of his friendship with Paul Nelson was how, in Paul’s review of The River, he had correctly identified the influence that London Calling had had on that album. Springsteen told me about the great affinity he’d always had for not just the Clash but punk rock as a whole. “I felt a deep connection to those things,” he said, “and it kinda runs right through [The River].”

It’s a connection that continues, as demonstrated by the recent release of the first single from Springsteen’s upcoming album, Magic. Following in the tradition of great radio songs like the Clash’s “Capitol Radio” and “Radio Clash,” Elvis Costello’s “Radio, Radio,” and Van Morrison’s “Wavelength,” “Radio Nowhere” is an all-out rock & roller that best describes itself:

I just wanna hear some rhythm
I want a thousand guitars
I want pounding drums
I want a million different voices
Speaking in tongues

Flat out, “Radio Nowhere” is the best thing to hit the airwaves in years.

Copyright 2007 by Kevin Avery. All rights reserved.